A BRAP release distributed yesterday in response to Dr James Watson’s racist outpourings:

“BRAP refute some of the ideas voiced by the American DNA pioneer Dr James Watson. In Britain to promote his new book, Dr Watson – who won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for his part in discovering the structure of DNA – has claimed that black people are less intelligent than white people, that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. He also suggests that a woman should have the right to abort her unborn child if tests could determine it would be homosexual. He added that whilst he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true”.

BRAP have argued in our briefing paper, “The social construction of race” (available to download free from http://www.brap.org.uk) that there are as many theories to inform the perspective that ‘race’ is a social construct – a view that is backed up by a wealth of recent social and scientific research – as indeed there are those that suggest it is biological.

Perpetuating these ideas under the guise or legitimacy of pseudo-science is extremely dangerous as indeed history has sought to prove. In doing so, Dr Watson is not only fanning the flames of controversy – possibly to generate interest in his new book – but is contributing to the persistence of a discredited and deeply divisive concept. It is a shame that such an eminent individual should allow his own irrational prejudices to overshadow such an acclaimed and distinguished scientific record. It will be even more of a shame if some seek to use this same scientific record to legitimise the notion that ‘race’ is a biological reality.

BRAP is committed to challenging and responding to both our own and to other people’s thinking around equalities and human rights. We see it as a crucial mechanism through which we question our past and current approach to tackling the causes and effects of racism and all other forms of discrimination in today’s society.”

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